Beyond commitment: Okta’s journey towards racial equity
In 2020, following the death of George Floyd, we witnessed a racial reckoning that exposed the harmful inequities within our society, underscoring the need for systemic change. Recognizing the magnitude of this movement and the urgent need for greater action, Okta affirmed its commitment to fighting for racial equity and promised to remain transparent and accountable in how we drive tangible change. We invite you to learn more about what Okta, our employees, and nonprofit partners have done to propel this important work forward.
Okta’s 3-year, $3M racial equity philanthropy commitment
That same year, we shared a list of public commitments to drive systemic change toward racial equity within and outside of Okta, including a three-year, $3M philanthropy commitment. Since then, we’ve taken actionable steps towards these commitments, including investing in individuals and nonprofit organizations advancing racial equity in our communities. In our latest Okta for Good Impact Report, we shared an exciting update: we exceeded our racial equity philanthropy commitment, deploying $3.2M in grants across Okta for Good, as well as the personal philanthropy of Okta’s co-founders, Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest.
While we’re thankful for this achievement, we recognize that the work is far from over. And we’re excited to share what we’ve done to empower our communities and advance racial equity wherever we can. Here’s a snapshot of our progress to date:
We focused our philanthropic efforts in two focus areas— educational equality and voting rights. Over the last three years, we’ve supported over 25 nonprofits across these focus areas.
Cultivating trust-based relationships is critical in philanthropic partnerships. So, beyond grant support, we’ve worked with each of our grantees to understand how else we might drive support toward their organizations and missions. We’ve deployed additional wraparound support to meet those needs, including:
- Supporting Techbridge Girls’ STEM Equity Advocate training programs, as well as gender-responsive and culturally-relevant STEM curricula.
- Empowering young, Black tech entrepreneurs through The Hidden Genius Project’s Alumni Venture Seed Fund.
- Connecting learners from Hack the Hood with Okta employees for training, mentorship, and networking opportunities through Tech Pathways Week.
Empowering our employees and amplifying their voices, perspectives, and lived experiences has been paramount in shaping our racial equity work over the last three years. To deploy funds toward our commitment, we organized a Racial Justice & Equity Employee Advisory Board composed of leaders from our People of Collective Cultures (POCC) employee resource group. Over the years, the Advisory Board evolved into a Racial Equity Philanthropy Fellowship, an experiential learning opportunity to equip employees with tactics and expertise to drive racial equity, focused on storytelling, grantmaking, and volunteerism. To date, we’ve engaged 14 employees as philanthropic leaders, enabling them with the resources, tools, and networks to advance racial equity alongside our communities.
Over the last year, our Fellows supported Okta’s Your Voice, Your Vote campaign, an initiative to increase voter participation and encourage civic engagement amongst U.S. employees during the 2022 midterm election. At one of the campaign’s signature events, more than 250 employees heard from leaders of our voting rights grantees: Asian Law Caucus, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Native American Rights Fund, and TurnUp Activism. These advocates discussed the challenges BIPOC communities face in the voting process and detailed how we can all get involved in addressing those issues.
By elevating our employee’s understanding of the systemic factors contributing to racial inequity and providing them with the tools to begin addressing these issues, we’ve begun building the foundation needed for future Oktanaunts to continue this important work across our teams, company and community.
Internal accountability and transparency
Okta is dedicated to fulfilling its philanthropic goals, promoting racial equity, and developing a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. We recently published our third annual State of Inclusion report and are thrilled to introduce our new internal dashboard! This tool allows all employees to easily view the demographic breakdown of each organization within the company by gender and race/ethnicity.
Users can use this tool to gain insight into Okta's diversity with our report highlighting workforce by gender (global) and race/ethnicity (US only). As a company, we recognize there’s still progress to be made, but we’re committed to transparency for a more balanced and inclusive workplace. This quarterly update is intended to provide regular insights into where we are tracking throughout the year and what we’re doing to make long-term progress across organizations.
Here are more ways we’ve continued to prioritize racial equity and build a culture of diversity, inclusion, and belonging over the last three years:
- Continuing to invest in workforce development programs designed for and with BIPOC communities. Programs include the Equity Accelerator Fellowship, the Year Up program, and ongoing support of Genesys Works.
- Hosting internal workshops and enablement sessions on precise language and inclusive leadership.
- Increasing racial equity competencies for employees by partnering with Black Professionals in Tech Network and selecting speakers who bring an intersectional and racial equity approach for a wide variety of DIB educational workshops.
- Sponsoring members of the People of Collective Cultures ERG to participate in the Mckinsey Black Leadership Academy Experience.
- Updating our Okta Total Rewards to include Juneteenth as an official US holiday to cherish and acknowledge Black culture, educate ourselves, and take collective action as an organization.
Actualizing racial equity in support of BIPOC communities is not a one-time effort. It requires a sustained, multi-generational commitment to drive systemic change and to empower our communities in a meaningful, trust-based way. Okta remains steadfast in our commitment to racial equity and is dedicated to maintaining transparency throughout our journey.
We invite you to learn more and look forward to sharing updates and insights in the coming months. In the meantime, please continue listening, learning, and thinking deeply about the equitable communities we can create, now and for future generations.